The 21st century was supposed to be the cen­tury of progress, better life, advanced society … At least, that’s how most of us pictured it. Fly­ing cars, better life quality, healthier and happier people, world peace…

Boy, were we wrong…

There has never been more uncertainty and con­fusion. We’ve never talked more about tolerance yet show little or none. We talk about rights, but every day we wake up, we realize we’ve lost some.

Some crazy times we’re living in… When self-love is seen as a challenge. In the era of evolu­tion and revolution, automation and AI domina­tion, information overload, and distraction, we’ve become numb and disconnected. As a society, we’re going through some serious collective and personal crisis, and amidst this general feeling of confusion, uncertainty, fear and loss of direction, self-love plays a pivotal role. Not only is it import­ant, it is essential for the survival of humanity.

Survival is our default mode, it’s part of life, it’s our primal instinct. But fighting for mere existence should not be. As an incurable optimist, I can’t but look for a silver lining and try to make the best of any situation and look for the most posi­tive outcome in everything. Because I believe in possibilities, abilities and change, the latter per­haps being the only certainty there is.

I refuse to believe that we’re mere beasts gov­erned by their instincts, with little or no empathy or rational thinking. We’re supposed to be ratio­nal, intelligent, empathic beings. We’re supposed to love and take care of the ones we love, even if in today’s world it’s almost seen as a revolution­ary act.

What is self-care? It means a different thing to each one of us. For some, it may be healthy habits, a healthy diet, physical exercise or med­itation. For others, it may be reading, arts and crafts, family time, spending time with friends, recharging energy outdoors … There is no one-fit-all formula. But the first step towards self-care, and, therefore, self-love, is to be open-minded. Give a fair chance to new things, to trial and er­ror, to different options and opinions. Shift our focus from obstacles to opportunities so that we can find what works for us, and grow…

Whatever we choose to do to take care of our­selves and others we must keep in mind that our growth never stops. We are, we always have been and we always will be work in progress. The sooner we realize that, the faster we will re­gain self-love because we will take care of our­selves differently: our focus will shift from “I’m not” to “I’m not yet”. This is so powerful and so liberating. It transforms obstacles into opportuni­ties, fear into challenge, finite into infinite. Every contact and every interaction now becomes a chance to grow and is not a threat to our self-ac­claimed omniscience, which further opens the door to meaningful communication as a prereq­uisite for meaningful connection.

Self-care starts with silencing our ego and then setting boundaries: how far are we willing to go and how far are we willing to let others move to­wards us? Having clear priorities and knowing where we can compromise and what’s absolute­ly non-negotiable. Those will help us build integ­rity and communicate clearly, yet emphatically with others, thus ensuring healthy communica­tion and, ultimately, true connection. And only when true connections are established can there be peaceful coexistence.

This has always been my field of interest and has influenced my life and my career. I believe in sin­cere connection and open and effective communication, with emphasis on respect at all times, as the only way to grow and help grow. I would say that’s where my fascination with languages comes from. Ever since I first came in contact with English at school, the fact that there’s a dif­ferent system of symbols, with different combina­tions and meaning, was fascinating in itself.

The ability to decipher and then use that other system to break the language barrier seemed like magic to me. I learned that words have life of their own. I found out that we attach meaning to them and are therefore responsible for what we say and do. I discovered that we’re all beautiful­ly different yet basically the same, with similar fears, desires and goals. I learned that one word can make or break relationships.

Neuroscience says that the same parts of the brain are activated when we feel physical pain and social pain, which means that words can hurt as much as actions. Words ARE actions. Words DO matter. They CAN hurt. For that very reason, we should pay attention to what we’re saying to ourselves and to others because it DOES matter.

When we hurt someone we usually get some kind of feedback from them: anger, resentment, disappointment… When we hurt ourselves with a negative, on-repeat narrative we created in our head (and we are often not aware of it until it has taken over a huge part of our actions and beliefs), there is no feedback because thoughts have become beliefs and those have turned into behavior.

To love others, we need to understand and love ourselves first, and in order to take care of oth­ers we need to take care of ourselves. Self love is not egocentric – it doesn’t mean putting your­self first, but rather nurturing yourself, knowing yourself, and constantly working on becoming a better person. It means understanding how unique we all are and how we should nurture our uniqueness and help others nurture theirs, and learn how to use all our beautiful differences to create a truly diverse, respectful and high-func­tioning society.

Self-care is both a personal and collective re­sponsibility, not just a simple need. We should never underestimate the power of the ripple ef­fect. Everything we do affects people around us and, consequently, our society as a whole. If we’re not good to ourselves, we cannot be happy with ourselves, and we cannot be good to others.

When we understand the connection and the re­sponsibility we have to ourselves and the people around us, we will be able to change the world for the better even with a small gesture of kind­ness every day. Because it does matter. Every­thing we do matters, for better or for worse.

Taking care of ourselves means taking care of our body and our mind, taking care of our re­lationships which further means taking care of people around us which ultimately means taking care of the society as a whole. Self-development is an act of love and the only thing we actually have control over.

It may not be easy, but it is very simple. And to­tally under our control… Therefore, it’s up to us.


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